Incredible and inspiring at the same time, the incredibly vibrant In the Heights. Almost convinces you that you’re back in the IMAX theatre, even if you’re watching it on your iPhone.
The film adaptation of Lynn-Manuel Miranda and Quiara’s hit Broadway musical. Alegria Hudes hit Indian platforms this week after simultaneously capturing. The cultural imagination and building box offices around the world.
A gentrifying tale told in a gentle rebellious spirit:
In the Heights is an exhilarating ode to the film and the physical act of watching it. In one scene, two characters in love jump off the floor.
And dance on the side of a building in New York. I heard that the series is not set in a Broadway musical. But is one of director John M Chu’s creative innovations.
In many ways, the director’s career developed similar to the characters Benny and Nina in this song series. The Chu, who developed a discreet but highly successful career. As a Hollywood director, had a small “Anubhav Sinha moment”.
After the critical and commercial failure of his film “Jam and the Holograms”. In the Heights fits the skinny and kind Crazy Rich Asians. Better than the more memorable films the Chu has ever associated with; The film he even admitted in an interview that “anyone can do it”.
Set in a cultural mix in the Washington Heights neighbourhood of New York, the film revolves around a group of young adults – primarily first-generation Latino immigrants – who find their identity as their community prepares for cultural destruction.
Nina Rosario couldn’t bring herself to tell her father that she left college because she ran out of money; Osnavi de la Vega dreams of one day returning to the Dominican Republic to take over his late father’s business.
He falls in love with Vanessa, who wants to be a fashion designer, but is tormented by self-doubt, mainly from her community.
Miranda, who played the Usnavi on Broadway:
It makes a cameo appearance as Pyragua (and gets a number just for herself). Olga Meredith provides perhaps the most moving performance in the film when Abuela Claudia, a matriarchal figure for the entire neighbourhood, enters the Usnavi after death.
In her number Paciencia y Fe, Abuela Claudia delves into the sadness of the generations that passed In the Heights. Almost as a counterbalance to the optimistic spirit. That the Chu carries to the rest of the story – it’s the cinematic equivalent of a cook sticking to lemon juice to elevate the flavour profile of a salty dish.
Not surprisingly, the supporting character in In the Heights who hope for hope is a true dreamer. Usnavi’s cousin Sonny is an illegal immigrant who knows his status forbids him from applying for college or abroad.
Other people’s difficulties force the characters in In the Heights to do better;
Inspire friendliness and a desire that is to help those who look and sound like them. There is genuine camaraderie here, but some sections of the audience were disappointed by the lack of black characters in the film.
For outsiders – mine – the feel of the presentation is wholly lost. The only thing I see is a fringe group that has been in the spotlight for a long time. But everyone’s opinion that is (and should be heard).
I suspect that the Northeastern Church in India has similar concerns about grouping them to make it easier for a disabled Hindi-speaking audience.
But In the Heights is the proof that is while a hyper-local stance may sound like the politically correct way, it doesn’t make sense for the last film to be as entertaining as this one. The Chu, the son of Asian immigrants, can capture the spirit of a culture far from his own by touching universal humanity.
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Who knows if a Latinx director would be a better fit for the material, but as it stands, In the Heights is an excellent addition to this new wave of Hollywood musicals.